A Rare Linky Post

Usually I think of my blog as the place where I put down my thoughts. But things have been so hectic of late that I haven’t really had any that are worth noting. Instead, I’m going to link to three posts that have caused me lately to stop and think.


Andrew Blackman: The Future of Books: Reactive?

This fascinating post reports on advances in technology in ‘reactive media’ in which we get to be hooked up to a machine that stimulates the storyline we’re reading if we get bored, or dials it back if we’re overreacting.

I guess that whether your reaction to all this is “Wow, that sounds cool” or “Please shoot me now” depends on what you want from your media,’ Andrew writes.

No prizes for guessing which camp I’m in.


Dutch Courage (written by my friend Ingrid): Proving Yourself

This is a beautifully written post in which Ingrid considers the subtle difference between ‘justifying yourself’ and ‘proving yourself’, a distinction linked to gender identity that she becomes aware of while supporting her young son as he grows. Masculinity, she learns, consists in part of:

The unshakeable drive to prove oneself worthy of a higher and nobler calling (love), the need to have one’s action’s approved by a band of brothers, that all-in-allness that men establish between each other through competition and the fair fight is absolutely hardwired into them. They could no more let go of it than they could drop down and walk on all fours. To laugh at this drive is to wound a man profoundly.’


The Guardian: Top Five Regrets of the Dying

This is an old post that Mr Litlove alerted me to a while back and which I return to every now and then to check in with and check myself against. It arose out of a book written by an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care. The regrets are:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard (apparently every single man said this).

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings (many felt that buried resentment and bitterness had played a part in their illnesses).

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends (ironically, while typing this my neighbour came to the door for a chat and after catching up with the headlines I had to shoo her away because I had so much work to do).

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

What a salutory lesson those five regrets encompass. I find myself particularly drawn to the last one, although I think that, taken wrongly, it can be made into an excuse for suppressing problems that really need to be dealt with. I’d probably change it into ‘I wish I’d let myself fully recognise what emotions were appropriate to any given situation, and let myself experience them.’

On that note, I will just say that I think my son is beginning to find more emotional equilibrium, and my back is a great deal better. Thanks to the splendid heated band-aid, I did make the event in Heffers last week with Jill Dawson (who turns out to be absolutely lovely). I was not what you’d call comfortable, but I was there. One less thing to regret. 🙂  Thank you all for your amazing, invaluable support; I certainly couldn’t manage without my virtual friends.


9 thoughts on “A Rare Linky Post

  1. How wise that Guardian piece is! Perhaps we should all have it taped to our bathroom mirrors so that it’s the first thing we see every morning. Very pleased to hear that your back is better, your son is happier and that you managed to meet Jill who is, indeed, absolutely lovely. I had such hopes that she would be long listed for the Baileys prize but I’m sure she bore her disappointment with grace.

  2. I’ll read piece 2 when I have time 🙂
    Regarding the Guardian list I have a few comments:

    1) I think I am too selfish to have deliberately lived the life others expected (though I bet I have), but how on earth do I know if I am “true to myself”? That seems logically contradictory – what ever I do is “myself”. (I do know what this means conventionally)

    2) At the moment (I am in my 50’s) I would NOT say I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

    3) Regarding “being happier”, that’s a more interesting one. About 7 years ago a lovely colleague said “have more fun” and I took her advice. Whether that means I became less “true to myself” I have no idea, and I’ve taken some unexpected steps in my pleasure seeking and although it hasn’t all been positive I do think I have managed to be somewhat (and on occasions incredibly) happier as a result.

  3. Thank you for this, Victoria. And I am glad, too, to learn that things are better on the son/heartbreak front and the litlove/back front. (I know, that is only barely, imperceptibly, not even really, funny. But I cannot help it! I’m trying not to suppress myself because I believe that bad jokes will lead somehow to happiness.) xo

  4. Thanks for the links! I saw Andrew’s post yesterday but haven’t had time to read it yet. The regrets list is interesting. Kind of puts things in perspective. Glad you hear your son’s heart is on the mend and your back too!

  5. Your excerpt from the Andrew Blackman piece appalled me so much I didn’t even go visit the link to read the rest of it. And I say that as someone who pretty plainly manipulates the experience of reading a book to make it more to her taste. :p

    Glad to hear your son’s feeling a bit better!

  6. I enjoy link posts because they mean I pick up on things I would otherwise have missed, so thanks. I’m glad things are improving your end, those wise Bears thought they would.

  7. I actually like linky posts…. As for that Guardian article…I always tell myself to be careful (especially as I often let work drag me down) as I would hate to become old and bitter and full of regrets. I want to be happy too. You wouldn’t think that is so hard, would you?

  8. Hi, I’m back after reading the piece on “proving oneself”. Sadly it all rings rather too true, though goodness knows why men do not want women to prove themselves rather than just be loved. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to play the role of damsel. The playing field is very far from flat and the rules though generally clear these days do not accommodate either child rearing nor the pernicious view still implanted when young that somehow it is “unbecoming” to compete to hard if you are female or to be part of a brotherly/sisterly band.

    I’m pleased to see that this is less prevalent amongst the students I teach than it was 25 years ago, but I certainly see aspects of it in some women of my own generation.

    Depressing indeed that this is still something worth writing about and the article was very well written so thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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